Wednesday, June 13, 2018

above/ground press 25th anniversary essay: Susanne Dyckman

This is the twentieth in a series of short essays/reminiscences by a variety of authors and friends of the press to help mark the quarter century mark of above/ground. See links to the whole series here.

The air coming through the open window smells sweet as I write this.  The fog has rolled back out past the Golden Gate and the sun is shining in the San Francisco Bay area.

Sweet is not a word that I normally use in the context of poetry.  But it’s the word rolling around my mind, without the saccharine qualities it’s taken on, deservedly or not. Perhaps I’m linking it to acts of generosity, or, as the thesaurus tells me, a state of being kind, thoughtful, considerate, caring.  And rob mclennan’s devotion to poetry and the poetry community is just that — kind, thoughtful, considerate and caring.

above/ground press first came to my attention by way of a friend who suggested it as a place to submit work and/or a chapbook, though that suggestion was made only a few years ago.  So while I can’t speak to the origins of above/ground, I can speak to what it is now.  As a poet in the U.S., I’ve experienced the challenges of publishing as one small press after another vanishes, or, due to the difficulties of financing, become electronic issues only.  And then I was introduced to rob and his publications.  Here was someone who answered emails and accepted work quickly and enthusiastically.  Someone who, while caring for his daughters and baking bread, put out one edition after another, much of it in print, hand-stapled, packed up, mailed.  Poetry loved and living on the page.

That, like today’s sweet air, is a pleasure.

As I follow rob’s literary adventures by way of Facebook, through his blog, and from his emails, I am continually struck by his energy and enthusiasm.  He makes room for poetry of all kinds, he welcomes the written word daily.  Living in what is now “the time of Trump”, rob has eliminated the borders that my government is intent on building.  He publishes poets I recognize and those I am pleased to discover. While I’ve never met him in person, I’ve taken to calling him my northern friend, knowing that he’s not mine alone, but an advocate of poetry across visible and invisible lines.

His are acts of dedication and devotion to language. Happy 25th anniversary to above/ground press.  We need you, I thank you.

Susanne Dyckman’s most recent collection of poetry is A Dark Ordinary (Furniture Press Books). She is also the author of equilibrium’s form (Shearsman Books) and three chapbooks, Counterweight, Transiting Indigo, and Source (above/ground press, 2014). Her work has appeared in a variety of journals as well as in the Paper Kite Press and As if it Fell from the Sun (EtherDome) anthologies.  She has taught creative writing at both the University of San Francisco and San Francisco State University, and has been a co-editor of Five Fingers Review and Instance Press. She lives and writes in Albany, California.

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